Penis size in historical paintings has gradually increased over the past seven centuries, a study finds

According to a scientific analysis of works of art from the 15th to the 21st century, the size of the “ideal” penis seems to have increased in recent history. The results were published in BJU Internationala peer-reviewed medical journal.

“In recent years, we are seeing a dramatic increase in interest in penis enlargement surgery,” said study author Ege Can Serefoglu, professor of urology at Biruni University Faculty of Medicine and editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Impotence Research.

“We have found that this increased demand is largely due to increased consumption of porn, particularly during the pandemic period. Many young men compare their penis size to that of porn stars and consider their penises small even though their size is within the normal range.”

“They are very afraid of the inability to please their partners, despite the fact that penis size has not been shown to have a significant impact on partner satisfaction,” Serefoglu told PsyPost.

“This phenomenon is called ‘penile dysmorphophobia’ and is now considered part of body dysmorphic disorder. Given the extent of this disorder, we wanted to determine the ideal penis size by measuring the length of this organ in nude paintings. As expected, we have seen dramatic increases in penis size over the last few centuries.”

To analyze how the depiction of male genitalia in Western art has changed over time, the researchers systematically analyzed 160 paintings of nude adult males created by 99 artists from 21 countries worldwide, ranging from the Renaissance to the present day.

To standardize measurements, only paintings where penis size could be determined and represented in proportion to the face were included. The paintings were examined to ensure that the male figures’ faces conformed to the golden ratio, which is a standard for proportion in art, indicating that the images were realistic and proportionate. The researchers calculated the ratio of penis length to ear length (PtEL) or penis length to nose length (PtNL) to determine the size of the penis in relation to the imaged face.

The paintings were classified into seven groups according to the centuries in which they were painted and further classified into three groups according to the historical development of the art: Renaissance period (1400-1599), Baroque-Rococo and Impressionism period (1600-1899) and period of the contemporary art (1900-2020).

During the 15th and 16th centuries, the number of paintings depicting the naked male body increased significantly, but the penis was still depicted as being relatively small during this period.

The researchers found that the average penis size in 21st-century paintings was larger than in any other century. In addition, the average penis size of paintings from the contemporary art period was significantly larger than any previous period. The results suggest that penises were depicted larger in more recent paintings compared to earlier ones.

The results were largely in line with the researchers’ expectations. “We were aware that the ‘small penis’ was considered an ideal in ancient Greece and the Renaissance. In modern times, we knew that penis size was increasing along with society’s perception of the “ideal penis size,” Serefoglu said.

The researchers said that the increasing tendency in contemporary art to depict larger and possibly unrealistic penises could potentially affect modern men’s self-esteem and satisfaction with their own penis size. More research is needed to determine why artists depict penises in this way and what the possible implications of this trend are.

“Men shouldn’t consider porn stars ‘normal’ and shouldn’t focus on their penis size, which has no impact on partner satisfaction,” Serefoglu advised.

The study “Representations of penises in historical paintings reflect changing perceptions of the ideal penis size” was authored by Murat Gül, Emre Altintas, Mehmet Serkan Özkent, Annette Fenner and Ege Can Serefoglu.

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